The Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC), with funding from UNESCO, has launched a school-based anti-stigmatisation campaign in seven regions to encourage children to report to the appropriate authorities when they are feeling sick whether at home or in school.
The seven regions include Greater Accra, Eastern, Western, Bono, Central, Volta and Ashanti.
In all, 70 public and private schools in 35 districts within the seven regions are benefiting from the campaign.
The campaign is a sub-component of the UNESCO-funded Project dubbed: “Promoting Effective Teaching and Learning at the Pre-Tertiary Level for All Children in Ghana in the Covid-19 Era” being implemented by GNECC, a network of about 200 civil society organizations working in the Education sector in Ghana.
The project aims to campaign for every child of school-going age to return to school and promote a safe and secure school environment for children and teachers whilst they are in school, home and community.
Launching the campaign at Fiapre Methodist Basic School ‘A’ and ‘B’ in the Sunyani West Municipality in Bono region, the Regional Coordinator of GNECC, Raphael Godlove Ahenu said there is the need to carry out sensitization activities in the communities (door-to-door) to encourage children to return to school.
“While the pandemic affects all students, teachers and education personnel, its adverse impacts are greatest for marginalized and vulnerable groups which include children with disabilities, girls, children in rural areas and urban slums.
The risk that a significant number of them will not return after reopening of school is high. This could erode the gains made over the years in promoting access to education for girls, children with disabilities, children living in rural areas and urban slums.
There is therefore the need to engage in a campaign that would ensure these categories of children who are at the greatest risk of dropping out of school and provide them with the psycho-social support to ensure that they are not left out of education,” Mr Ahenu explained.
He revealed that community-based volunteers or monitors have been trained to monitor schools to ensure that they are complying with safety protocols recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ghana Health Service to guarantee the safety of all children in schools, homes and communities.
They will also ensure that there are improved hygienic practices the constant provision of water, detergents, Veronica buckets, hand sanitizers and tissue amongst others in the various schools.
Mr Ahenu reminded the students and teachers to always wear their nose masks and wash their hands under running water regularly to protect them from contracting the Covid-19.
He stressed the need for increased public education on the deadly pandemic since there is still misinformation about the disease and its vaccines.
“A lot of rumours have been circulating in relation to the new Covid-19 vaccines, both in Ghana and around the world.
Such rumours can engender fear, ambivalence and can backtrack the progress made against combatting the Covid-19 pandemic.
There is the need to intensify public awareness creation on Covid-19 pandemic and preventive measures in schools since some of the students believe that disease is not real,” he added.
Mr Ahenu, therefore, urged Ghana Health Service to visit schools regularly to increase awareness of Covid-19 among students.
The Brong-Ahafo Chapter of GNECC under the campaign has so far sensitised over 2500 students and teachers on Covid-19 in the five beneficiary districts within the Bono region.